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Lou Terrell 1938-2014
Bud Emerson | Klish Way

Lou and Abe in Powerhouse Park. Courtesy DMCC. 
Click on image to enlarge.

“Lou Terrell left a hole in Del Mar’s heart,” said Mayor Lee Haydu when she learned that he had been hit by a train saving his dog. Dick Herzberg said Lou was a “mensch” defined as “a person of integrity and honor, someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.”

Lou, a friend of more than 40 years, lived up to those words and more. He led a life of significant accomplishment as Chair of Political Science at San Diego State University, President of Planned Parenthood, and Mayor and Council Member in Del Mar.

His many contributions to civic life also included service as a founder and early President of the Del Mar Foundation.  At an early Board meeting of the Del Mar Foundation, held more than 30 years ago, Lou Terrell and other board members envisioned a future for Del Mar that included an outdoor concert series, a rich and diverse program of cultural arts programming, and an endowment for Del Mar, among other goals. Today, the results of this visionary session are richly woven into Del Mar's culture, with Twilight Concerts at Powerhouse Park, First Thursdays and other cultural arts programs at the Del Mar Powerhouse Community Center, and a community endowment to to provide long term funding for community needs, launched to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Del Mar Foundation. Remarkably, these visionary goals were set before either Powerhouse Park or Powerhouse Community Center even existed. 

But Lou is defined by much more than a resume.

In many ways he was everyman: friend, neighbor, father, husband, brother, son, mentor, athlete, conversationalist, thinker, listener, supporter, ally, advocate, writer, philosopher, speaker, intellectual, art lover, music lover, traveler, sports fan, problem solver, cook, dreamer, doer, persuader, teacher, learner.

I think Lou can best be described as a lover of life. He was committed to doing good in every dimension of his life. He was enthusiastic about any role or task he undertook. He loved Del Mar, working before and after his City Council service to advocate for careful growth and protection of our natural environment. Lou was the first Council candidate in my memory who knocked on every door in town, twice. He won 85% percent of the votes and was always looking for ways to include the ideas of the 15% he did not get. One of his enduring ideas was the summer Powerhouse concerts.

I knew him as a bachelor for a long time, thoroughly appreciating the family members of his friends and associates. When he met and fell in love with Carol Isackson he was more than ready to be a family man, so happy to have a son and daughter to parent. He gave his new family much, but he benefited more from this transformation of his life.

As a leader Lou underplayed his considerable intellect, showing respect for others and their ideas, knowing that more could be accomplished with group effort, and egos in check. He was very easy to trust as a leader and as a friend.

Lou’s friends knew he gave them unconditional affection. Much of his life was spent on the beach, loving to body surf, playing volleyball, hanging out with friends. He was a great conversationalist ranging from political debate, to intellectual musing, to international relations, to juicy gossip. Every day he could be seen walking his dog around town, enjoying all our small town beauty with a smile and a good word for all.

We will miss him, but he left much we can benefit from.

On December 2 Lou participated in the City Hall/Civic Center workshop. Courtesy City of Del Mar.  Click on image to enlarge.


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